Support for Ukraine is high in Europe, but inflation could deepen divisions, poll finds

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As the war in Ukraine drags into its fourth month, Europeans remain largely united in support of Kyiv, but are divided on how long they are prepared to bear the economic fallout from the conflict, according to a poll released Wednesday.

The survey in 10 European countries suggests that public attention may be shifting from the war to fears about its wider impact, particularly the rising cost of living on the continent. European governments will have to grapple with those concerns as they seek to keep the pressure on Moscow, analysts say.

Just over a third of respondents want the war to end as soon as possible, even at the expense of Ukrainian territorial concessions, while 22% say it should last as long as it takes to punish Russia and restore all Ukrainian lands.

Yet participants were not divided on support for Ukraine – or who is responsible for the war. A large majority, 73%, mainly blame Moscow, and 64% believe that Russia, and not the United States, the European Union or Ukraine, is the biggest obstacle to peace.

The pollpublished by think tank European Council on Foreign Relations and conducted online by YouGov and research firm Datapraxis, surveyed 8,172 adults in 10 European countries, including Germany, Romania and Sweden, between late April and mid-May.

Respondents were split between those who said they favor ‘peace’, even if it means concessions from Ukraine, and those who see ‘justice’ as the priority, even if it means protracted conflict . A fifth of voters ‘swing’ between the two and still want a strong European response, while the rest said they don’t know.

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Sentiments will affect European policy on Ukraine, according to the report’s authors, Ivan Krastev and ECFR’s Mark Leonard.

“The poll results suggest that European public opinion is changing and that the toughest days may be ahead,” they wrote. Europeans are also worried about the threat of a nuclear escalation, and if the feeling grows that the sanctions against Russia “are not working”, the gap between those who want a quick end to the war and those who want seeing Russia defeated will deepen, the report says.

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In the 10 countries surveyed, with the exception of Poland neighboring Ukraine, the first camp – for “peace” – is larger than the second, labeled “justice”. Many of those in the first category fear that their governments are prioritizing “action against Russia before other important issues, such as rising inflation and the crisis in the cost of living”, the official said. ‘ECFR.

As economies are still recovering from the coronavirus pandemic, Russia’s war in Ukraine propelled already rising inflation in countries that use the euro to a record high in May, with energy expected to have the rate highest annual. And that was ahead of an EU agreement this month to eliminate most Russian oil imports, spurred by mounting evidence of Russian war crimes in suburban Kyiv.

The prospect of an interminable conflict, with the battle for eastern Ukraine raging, has raised questions about whether war fatigue, coupled with soaring food prices and energy bills , could test the political will of countries to continue to pressure Moscow over time.

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On Sunday, President Biden blamed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for the rise in gas prices in the United States, saying it was “outrageous what the war in Ukraine is causing.”

As EU countries negotiated an oil embargo last month, a Belgian member of the European Parliament hailed the response to Russian aggression, while warning of rising unemployment and energy poverty.

Western sanctions hitting the Russian economy “will also affect the lives of European citizens, with a direct impact on their homes, their jobs, their wallets”, the lawmaker said. Sara Matthieu told her colleagues. She urged the 27-nation bloc to help mitigate rising prices and “protect our citizens, especially those at risk of falling into poverty, people who fear they won’t be able to heat their homes next winter. “.

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The impact on European households prompted a series of policy measures. Germany, for example, offers temporary reductions in energy taxes and issues a monthly ticket of 9 euros for public transport.

Governments are “walking a fine line”, said Tyler Kustra, assistant professor of international relations at the University of Nottingham in England, whose research focuses on economic sanctions.

“I think there is huge concern across Europe about the cost of living. These things are things you can’t buy. You need food; you need warmth,” he said.

“I think we have to remember how much we don’t want war in Europe and how hard we have to stand against Vladimir Putin,” Kustra added. “There is no single win-win option; it’s a series of unfortunate compromises. This is why we need this war to end.